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Deacon Emile Adams Jr.

At 99, LA’s oldest deacon is still finding ways to serve

“Emile is one of those people you meet that simply embodies goodness,”

-Deacon Jim Carper

Though he has a century’s worth of memories to choose from, one that will always get a chuckle out of 99-year-old Emile Adams Jr. starts with him receiving a rather frantic phone call from his daughter, Lillian.

“The power had gone out in my house,” she said. “I had six children, three boys in the bath, a baby down in the crib, two girls running around and [husband] Frank was at work. I couldn’t figure out the fuse box, so I called my dad and he was over in minutes.

“The moment he walks in the house, he puts his arms over his head and says, ‘Let there be light!’ And the lights went on! We all just stared at him for a moment and then my daughter Robyn said to her sister Renee, ‘See Renee, I told you Papa was God.’ ” (We assume Renee nodded knowingly.)

While one can forgive a granddaughter’s pride, the truth is that people seem to recognize something different about Adams. Just ask parishioners at St. Bernadette Church in Baldwin Hills, where Adams has attended since 1972 and began his ministry as a deacon in 1979.

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